The exhibition presents sculptures in Alexander Brodsky’s signature unfired clay as well as a series of previously unseen drawings, made especially for this exhibition.
Reliefs will also see the opening of the basement gallery at Betts Project — a space, on Brodsky’s wishes, deliberately left bare, temporarily arresting the process of its refurbishment, in accordance with his preference for the unfinished over the finished, and to better connect with what he sees as the spirit of his drawings and reliefs.
Acclaimed as ‘the most important Russian architect alive today’, Brodsky first made his name in the 1980s with a striking set of architectural etchings, produced in collaboration with his great friend Ilya Utkin. Over the last 30 years it is difficult to think of a more influential, more compelling set of architectural drawings, for Brodsky and Utkin not only reinvested Soviet design with all of the intelligence, history and humour it had lost over the previous half century, but they did so with images that were as original as they were engaging. These drawings would be exhibited all over the world, and their success led to a period when Brodsky lived and worked in the US. Back in his beloved Moscow since 2000, he has continued to work across the boundaries of art and architecture, completing a number of pavilions, interiors and galleries, while also exhibiting drawings and large relief models in his now signature unfired clay. Brodsky’s architecture remains restrained, blurring the line between art and architecture, combining low cost, local and reused materials to produce buildings that are both traditional and modern. His unfired clay artworks as well as his buildings act as a reminder of the fragility of the city.
As Thomas Weaver continues from his recent published interview, Alexander Brodsky has been working with unfired clay since 1999. ‘Clay seems to be the most perfect Brodsky material – perhaps even more so than the copper of the etching plate – because of its ability to hold within it a series of memories.’ Brodsky adds, ‘The memory aspect is definitely a big part of its appeal. This is why I never wanted to fire the clay pieces I made, because when you put it in a kiln you kill it, you remove the ability to rehydrate it and make it into something new. Clay is just such a wonderful material, the most fragile thing you could imagine, yet so interesting.’